Monday, June 04, 2007

Talk to Her

In light of her recent debate performance (which Jon Stewart sharply lampooned as sending a message of "Everybody for President! Yay!") the National Journal has written that Hillary Clinton is "doing Kerry better than Kerry" as of late, and wonders aloud whether she could have beaten Bush in 2004. This is an interesting question, and I would suspect she almost definitely would have... but the issue now is whether 2008 offers such a changed landscape that a woman who claims to want to be anything but a conventional politician--but behaves exactly like one--can win the Democratic nomination.

Did you watch the debate? I watched what might be termed the Standing Hour but skipped the Sitting Hour (anytime any group sits down to debate, I lose interest since sitting down to debate makes people zombies, i.e. Edwards vs. Cheney in 2004). Overall, I was pretty impressed with the minor-step toward actual debating that occurred (and this ignores all "raise your hand" questions...).

The word "debate," according Merriam-Webster, is defined as, "a contention by words or arguments" which of course leads us to "contention," which is defined as "an act or instance of contending ," which exhaustingly leads us to "contending" which is defined as "to strive or vie in contest or rivalry."

Ideally, the contention-slash-contending would exist between the actual rivals themselves and not, say, grown men named after animals (or anchors from networks named after animals).

Obama got a good shot at Edwards, Edwards got some shots at Obama and Hillary, and Biden got some good shouting shots off into the air (some pundit said voters don't like politicians who shout, and I guess you have to agree with that one). Otherwise, the remaining candidates were dull and the topics were uneven and nothing new--the focus on all-things-Gay seemed odd and unnecessary (honestly... please leave us alone for an election cycle) and the ignoring of issues like education or spending seemed a glaring oversight.

It would be a great thing if the future debates kept moving towards letting the candidates interact more--being a President (under the Constitution, which W. obviously isn't) doesn't seem to be a unilateral undertaking, thus, shouldn't candidates for President in 2008 be required and prepared to confront opposing views and defend their own in the stress of real-time? Replace all those Gore sighs from 2000 with Gore directly questioning Bush and maybe the electoral college could have caught up to the popular vote.


Obama seemed stronger than before, everyone appears to agree on this, but I still feel like he's more into the sound of his words than the force of his argument. There is a smooth sound but no biting finish.

Edwards needs to ignore Obama and go after Hillary. Obama's supporters, who I respect and understand, won't switch to John. But many of Hillary's would, I suspect, and it's time for Edwards to confront Hillary on her machinations. As a figure, Hillary may not be on trial, but her maneuvering is, and Edwards needs to make his case and contrast Hillary's wildly enthusiastic efforts to appear strong with her inability to just stand up and, well, be strong (maybe he can get some talking points by reading "Hillary's War" in the recent New York Times Magazine).

When it comes to Hillary, her face was fresh, her voice was harsh and her sentences were short. But I am thoroughly unconvinced, both as a primary and general election voter, as to why she should be elected President. Telling us we are more safe now than before 9/11, in light of, say, a little place called Iraq, seems lunatic-based. Trying to tell us that she lost the 1994 health care battle due to a lack of "political will" seems odd--if Hillary couldn't lead then, why now? Hasn't our national discourse on policy only coarsened since that time? My only thought watching her (besides wincing at that voice) was that perhaps Mrs. Clinton should quit trying so hard to win over aspects of the Right and work harder to win over the ideologically right.

Republicans are up next, tonight.

No comments: